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Bengals experiment with youngest head coach-offensive coordinator combo

Feb
11
2/11/2019 7:04:57 AM
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Bengals' Zac Taylor, 35, and Brian Callahan, 34, will comprise far and away the youngest head coach-offensive coordinator combination in the league, Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.  They point out the need to dissect the true meaning of experience.

“When you look at where Zac and I come from and take out just years in the league or experience, we’ve got a lot of experience in a lot of different areas that are beneficial,” Callahan said. “His dad was a coach. My dad was a coach. We’ve had access to things that not a lot of people get access to at that age. I do think there’s kind of a shared experience with those types of things that give you the experience that doesn’t necessarily count on a resume.”

Callahan has been in the NFL 10 years. He made it to the Super Bowl twice, both as an offensive assistant with the Broncos.

Taylor’s coaching time frame dates back 12 years with his one Super Bowl trip last season. 

“I think years in this league are like dog years,” Callahan said. “The amount of experience you gain in one year in the NFL, I think, is different than the traditional work environment. It’s so high stress. There are so many things that happen and move so fast. The amount of things that go on into a 16-game season and through the course of an offseason, you learn at an accelerated pace,” Callahan said. “I think that’s why you have so many younger coaches being able to handle these things. The lessons you learn happen so much quicker.”

Callahan points to the likes of Gruden, John Madden and Al Davis, Mike Shanahan, Sean Payton and Sean McVay. Across generations, coaches became coordinators or head coaches in the mid-to-early 30s. All of those names did.

That doesn’t change the reality of what’s happening at Paul Brown Stadium right now. At the most important staff combination in the league, nobody is close to as young as Taylor and Callahan. More importantly, neither led the creation and implementation of an offense before.  

The average age of the current NFL offensive coordinators is 45. The average head coach is 50.

Taylor and Callahan are a combined 69 years old. No other combo is younger than 78.

Callahan is the fourth-youngest OC in the league. Dallas just hired 29-year-old Kellen Moore as the youngest. But all the young coordinators are paired with more experienced head coaches.  

A thesis during this hiring period was the league has never been more uniquely positioned for young coaches to enter and experience instant success. McVay (33) serves as an obvious example. Kyle Shanahan (39) and Matt Nagy (40) the other successful iterations.

The dramatic personality and learning shift among today’s players merging with the changing model of the current offensive playbook all wrapped up in an analytics revolution move young coaches into the crosshairs.

Taylor and Callahan discussed these grandiose ideas – along with the granular intricacies of a post-wheel concept – during many breakfasts over the years at the NFL Scouting Combine. Neither can remember exactly when they came across each other, likely when Callahan’s dad was coaching Taylor at Nebraska.

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